Big Bag Bed: Product Review
So why not try something a little different? Like a fabric raised bed…
The Big Bag Bed is basically a large bag with a flat bottom made out of geotextile (you’ll often see it used as landscape fabric). Created by High Caliper Growing, the makers of Smart Pots, it’s intended for use as a container garden on any flat surface.
Related Review: Compost Sak (great for composting but you can also use it as a planter)
Assembling the Big Bag Bed
If you can put a fitted sheet onto a bed inside your home, you can use the Big Bag Bed out in your yard. Take it out of the cardboard sleeve it comes in, unfold it, and get ready to fill it.
Like a fitted sheet, the bag bed is made out of fibers. The difference is in the type of fibers; the Big Bag Bed is manufactured out of a custom, non-woven, geotextile material, rather than woven strands of cotton.
Placement is Important
The Original Big Bag Bed is, well, big. Once unfolded in my yard it was bigger than I thought even though I had seen them in use on a rooftop garden in Quebec City, Canada.
The size was a problem for me because we live on a slope and finding a level area to lay the Big Bed out on was a challenge. I had to level a space for it. If you have a flat yard this should not be a problem.
Be sure you have the bed where you want it, because once it is full of soil you will not be able to easily move it. (It’s like a water bed that way.)
Filling the Big Bag Bed
The manufacturer states right on the package the actual size, telling us that the bed is approximately 100 gallons and holds 13.7 cubic feet of mix. I had no clear idea of what that meant, and toddled off to the nursery to buy mix, forgetting to write down the the number of cubic feet needed. Two bags of container blend were a nice start, but it needed another trip to the store for two more – a total of four big bags of potting soil.
Using the Bed
The Bag Bed works well for the Southwestern winter garden. I had arugula, sorrel, scallions, and a winter greens mix, all densely planted and growing quite well.
Then one night I heard a noise in the yard. A herd of javalina were positively delighted with my garden. I saw three of those critters in the Bag Bed fighting each other over the salad bar. I chased them away and the bed suffered no major harm, which is more than I can say for the two ceramic pots of kale they knocked over and broke in their nocturnal jaunt. If the Big Bag Bed is tough enough to withstand an onslaught of javelina, it can probably stand up to anything you can throw at it.
The Bag Bed is available in three sizes; Original (50 inches in diameter), Junior (36 inches across) and Mini (24 inches in diameter). The Original and Junior are 12 inches tall, the Mini only 8 inches.
If I had it to do over again, I would opt for a Junior. Why? Well, I’m getting older and less flexible, and the center of the bed was just a tad out of easy reach. Also, a Junior should grow enough for our empty nest household.
It’s important to remember that fiber is porous. Moisture will weep out the sides of the Big Bag Bed and when you water it you’ll find that water seeps out the bottom.
In a humid environment, this could mean moss and liverworts might grow on the outside. Here in the Southwest it means that the calcium in the water will leach out the sides. Calcium leaching happens with ceramic posts as well, but if you are a neat freak this may bother you.
In the six months I used the Big Bag Bed the leaching was very little, but after two years it will be quite noticeable. Either way, these are surface issues and do not harm the plants inside the bed.
like this raised planter, and I intend to continue using it – with a “but.”
Here in the arid Southwest my plants have issues growing in fabric containers in the heat of summer. The sides of the containers are black and get too hot, plus the fabric allows the moisture in the soil to evaporate too quickly in our single digit humidity.
That said, this is a dandy container for the winter garden in hot climates – from October to April. The vegetables we grow in the winter garden are primarily the shallow rooted leafy greens, just fine for the shallow bag bed. In the northern states and Canada they only use the bag beds in summer so I guess it balances out.
Editor’s Note: I’ve used the Big Bag Bed for several years in Connecticut where I left it outside during the winter filled with potting mix that froze solid. It was no worse for wear the next spring.
Where to Buy It
You can buy the Big Bag Bed directly from the manufacturer where the Original (large) Big Bag Bed is $39.95 plus shipping, the Junior is $24.95 (Big Bag Bed Junior also available at Gardener’s Supply for the same amount) and the Mini is $14.95. It’s also available in many neighborhood hardware stores and you can find it for about $2 less on Amazon.
You can also get the Big Bag Bed in a fun purple color for roughly 10 dollars more.
And now over to you – Have you tried a raised outdoor planter? How did it work? Let us know in the comments below!
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Disclaimer – GPReview would like to thank High Caliper Growing for giving us a free Big Bag Bed to review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review and we received no compensation for writing it. All opinions expressed here are those of the author based on personal experience using the product.
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